The ocean seems to have an endless supply of shells for us to find. Have you ever gone to the beach wondering if there would be any shells there today? No, of course not. We come to expect them – it is just part of being at the shore.
Many places offer shells for sale and the larger outlets and shell shops probably get their shells from someone who dredges the ocean to bring in the big beauties that so many people want to collect. (Read this explanation of where the shells come from in this “environmental note” at one sellers site.) Many times seashells that are collected will be occupied by the shell maker and the animals will be killed. Have you ever thought about then when shopping for shells? If a site offers to tell you where they get their shells – such as the link above- be sure to read it, and then make your decision. If it’s a big distributor you can be assured they buy in bulk from one or many places and don’t go out searching for EMPTY shells themselves.
But there are plenty of people who do scour the shorelines (and not only the ocean shore) for treasures to use for their jewelry and craft businesses. These are the people I would want to buy from. The people with a respect for nature who use only empty shells to create products. Their jewelry tends to be more unique also since it is not mass produced.
So how do you know? That is a good question, but there are plenty of small, personally run businesses where the owners are happy to tell you how they collect the pieces they work with. All we can do is research and then trust that they are truthful.
If you care about whether or not that beautiful necklace came to be yours at the expense of the creature’s life, then do a little digging into the source before purchasing.
I had planned to make a list here to start you off shopping, but could only find a couple places worthy of adding and they mostly do sea glass jewelry. I know there are more out there and if you would like to be added to this list or to my sidebar, leave a message and I’ll visit your site.
Scarborough Seashells on Etsy finds their own sea glass and sea shells and turns them into rings, necklaces, pendants and even windows – very pretty. Certain places are better than others for finding sea or beach glass and genuine glass is collected along the shore after being worn down by years of sand grinding away the sharp edges. Buy from a reputable dealer – or one who at least seems to love writing about the glass they find. (Sea glass jewelry can be fake).
More sea glass jewelry by Paris Hanson Designs. She collects her own glass also.
Beach Sea Crafts on Etsy uses shells, sand dollars and other finds from the South Carolina coast to make ornaments, jewelry and more. She also has a lot of sharks teeth.